The same things that kept your grandfather up at night can still keep you from a restful night of sleep; crop-impairing weeds, yield-robbing diseases, infesting insects. Sure, farmers have better tools and technologies to deal with these pest problems, but the challenge remains: how do you invest wisely when you spend money for inputs to help manage crops and maximize yields?
New field studies from BASF show growers can realize their strongest return on investment or ROI by using a comprehensive pest management plan. According to the study, growers who apply herbicides, fungicides and insecticides can maximize their return by more than 250%. While most growers aim for a 2 to 1 return on investment, a comprehensive pest management plan can blow past those expectations, meaning more cash in growers' pockets at the end of the season.
Growers can increase ROI by perfecting pest management practices
* How it works. Thankfully, innovation is on a farmer's side. Agricultural technology continues to boom, and today's farmers have access to advanced corn hybrids and soybean varieties, as well as more efficient fertilizer programs, smarter farming equipment and better planting practices than their predecessors.
Decades of development, refinement and technological innovations have resulted in big advancements in crop protection products as well, bringing to market highly effective solutions designed to help growers protect seed potential and achieve maximum yields. When used in combination throughout a season, these solutions create what is referred to as a complete pest management program, which can help improve a grower's overall yield.
"Herbicides, fungicides and pesticides are each important on their own. But when used together, they can be a force to be reckoned with," says Dan Westberg, technical market manager for BASF. "For growers looking for a profitable ROI at the end of the season, a complete pest management plan can help them achieve those numbers and more. It's no secret that crop protection applications pay off when needed. By applying pesticides when needed, farmers are helping reduce risk of weed competition, disease and insect infestation, which can help crops reach their maximum yield potential. What does this mean for Iowa growers? It means a greater ROI at the end of the season."
Success in the field—what the results of good pest management are showing
In two years of BASF-funded field research trials and field-scale comparisons, results reveal a comprehensive pest management plan significantly increases yield potential while providing a healthy return on investment. The overall pesticide payoff is -- a 2.5 to 1 ROI in soybeans and 2.7 to 1 in corn.
The trials included a combination of herbicides and fungicides in corn and herbicides, fungicides and insecticides in soybeans. The research, conducted by BASF and several universities, took place across primarily Midwestern states in 2010 and 2011.
In the corn studies, researchers found that a comprehensive pest management program that included an enhanced preemergence herbicide treatment, a glyphosate post-emergence application, and a fungicide application at full tassel led to an average yield of more than 175.5 bushels per acre. Compared to the common approach of applying only a preemergence atrazine premix followed by a glyphosate postemergence application, the difference was an increase of nearly 12 bushels per acre.1
What the study shows for corn, soybean yields with proper pest management
Additionally, a return of $2.73 was achieved for each additional $1 invested in the comprehensive corn program, bringing in an extra $47.73 per acre based on a weighted average across years. With most growers aiming for at least $2 returned for each $1 invested, these results significantly exceed such goals and highlight what's possible when a robust pest management plan is used.2
In the soybean studies, researchers found that a comprehensive pest management program that included an enhanced preemergence herbicide treatment, glyphosate postemergence treatment, and a fungicide and insecticide application at the R3 stage of soybean growth led to an average yield of 55 bushels per acre. Compared to the common approach of making only a glyphosate postemergence application, the difference was an increase of 6.8 bushels per acre.3
Set against average soybean prices across years, those farmers employing the comprehensive pest management plan in soybeans saw an extra $47.54 per acre as a result. This is a return on investment of $2.50 for every additional $1 invested in the comprehensive program. 2
The crop protection payoff—boosting yields and greater profitability, too
The results of these studies paint a clear picture: herbicides, fungicides and insecticides each play a critical individual role in helping growers protect crops and deliver higher yields; however, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
For growers hoping for a 2 to 1 ROI at the end of the season, a complete pest management plan can help boost yield potential and profit to greater limits than ever before. "It's no longer a question of whether the right pesticide solutions exist and can deliver the value growers are looking for," says Westerberg. "The question is whether farmers are willing to make the necessary investments to maximize yield and profit potential."
He invites farmers to visit BASF's yield advantage website and take yield potential for a spin and see how the interactive wheel charts demonstrate yield potential for corn and soybeans. Learn more online.
FOOTNOTES: Where this data comes from and how ROI was figured
1 Data compiled from 2010 and 2011 BASF (6) and university (13) field trials: BASF (Illinois-2, Tennessee-2, & New York-2), University of Illinois, University of Missouri-2, University of Nebraska, University of Wisconsin, Iowa State University-2, Colorado State University, Southern Illinois University-2, South Dakota State University, Purdue University-2.
2 2010 and 2011 ROI and additional profit based on a weighted average across years.
3 Data compiled from 2010 and 2011 BASF (5) and university (20) field trials: BASF (Illinois-2, Minnesota, New York, & Tennessee), University of Illinois-2, University of Kentucky, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri-2, University of Nebraska-2, University of Wisconsin, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, Michigan State University, The Ohio State University, Southern Illinois University-2, North Dakota State University, South Dakota State University-2, Purdue University-2.